Professors at Shepherd hosted a panel to discuss the election and the future of policy in American government.

Political Science Department Holds Teach-In

The overwhelming tone of the teach-in organized by the Shepherd Political Science Department was that Donald Trump’s tenure as president of the United States may be much more complicated than the immediate reactions to his election may suggest.

“The system of American government, which was designed to limit power and make political action difficult, will remain the same regardless of who is elected,” said Dr. Stephanie Slocum-Schaffer, a professor of political science at Shepherd. Americans largely have an “inappropriate view of the president’s power,” she said. “The president cannot take action alone in most areas of government.”

The auditorium of the Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education, where the discussion was held, was only a few seats away from being full. The panel included Byrd Center Director of Programs and Research Dr. Jay Wyatt and political science professors Slocum-Schaffer, Dr. Aart Holtslag, and Dr. Max Guirguis.

Dr. Max Guirguis discussed the atmosphere surrounding the rise of Trump.
TATUM KING / The Picket
Dr. Max Guirguis discussed the atmosphere surrounding the rise of Trump.

Guirguis discussed the political atmosphere that lead to the Trump election victory. Trump’s campaign was successful, he said, because of his status as a political outsider, the insistence of the media that the race was all but over in the weeks leading up to election day, and Hillary Clinton’s characterization as a member of the political establishment.

“The media in a way told Democrats that there was no reason to turn out in large numbers due to the prediction that this election would not be close,” Guirguis said.

The most important aspect of Trump’s campaign, according to Guirguis, was that he accessed the rising wave of populism among the electorate in a way that an establishment politician could not.

Trump’s effect on foreign affairs in the future could be both significant and muted, said Holtslag. “The Iran deal and the Paris climate agreements are in serious trouble, although it will be very difficult for Trump to renegotiate NAFTA and NATO.” In a press conference at the White House this afternoon, President Obama revealed that in his meeting with Trump, the president-elect indicated that he would retain a “commitment to NATO.”

When asked about what the future holds for the Democratic Party, Wyatt said that the pick for the new chair of the Democratic National Committee would be a sign as to whether the party will head in a more progressive direction or whether it will stay on an establishment path.

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